St. Luke's strives to ensure that patients have a safe and positive experience. There is always some risk involved in most of life's experiences, including a visit to the hospital. St. Luke's works hard to reduce that risk.
Falls, allergic reactions, infections, equipment malfunctions, and medication errors are some of the things that can happen when visiting a hospital, despite our best efforts. We believe that if patients and hospitals work together, we can lower the risk of accidents and improve the safety for all involved. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results. Here are some ways you can become involved and help make your hospital stay as safe as possible.
Communication with Health Care Providers
Communication with your health care providers is important. Make sure you understand all aspects of your care, including tests, procedures, medications, and instructions regarding your medical condition.
Here are topics you may want to discuss with your health care providers:
You may have allergies to certain medications. Verify all allergy information is written down in your medical records.
Inform your health care providers of any medications you are currently taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, dietary/herbal supplements, laxatives, pain relievers, sleeping aids, etc.
Ask questions pertaining to medication being prescribed to you. Make sure you understand what the medication is for, the dosage, directions for use, refills, storage, expiration, and what to do about missed dosages. Discuss any side effects or warnings associated with the use of the medication and what to do if you experience side effects. Are there activities, food, drinks, or other medications you should avoid while taking the medication? Does the medication need to be taken with water, milk, or food?
Make sure you are clear about any instructions given when you are leaving for home. Are there special instructions for care, activities, or medications? Should you schedule a follow-up appointment? Is there a phone number to call should you have any questions?
If you are deaf or hearing impaired, or if English is not your primary language, ask for an interpreter.
It is your right to be well-informed, well-cared for, and safe. You have the right to ask for a second opinion. Seek advice and assessment from another health care provider if you are unsure or uncomfortable about the care and information you receive.
Your Hospital Stay
First of all, for the best care choose a hospital that does a high volume of the procedure or surgery you are about to undergo. Your hospital should be highly experienced in this procedure or surgery.
All hospitals work hard to prevent infections and medical errors, and you can help by taking an active part in that prevention. Following are some things you, as a patient, can do to make your hospital stay safe.
Remind your health care providers of any allergies you have and make sure the information is in your medical records.
Ask your health care provider what the medications are, what they do, when they are given, and their side effects, before they are given to you.
Get a flu or pneumonia vaccine before admission if recommended by the hospital. This can help prevent illness in high-risk or elderly patients.
Ask visitors who have colds, respiratory symptoms, or other contagious illnesses not to visit you or anyone in the hospital. Minimize visits from young children, as they have colds and other infections more frequently.
Inform you nurse or another health care provider if gowns or linens become soiled.
Remind health care providers to wash their hands or wear gloves prior to examining you or giving you medication.
Patient Safety Resources
Council on Patient Information and Education
- Specific information regarding medication errors from the state of Virginia